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Palermo saves Diego's skin

The big news after this weekend’s round of World Cup qualifiers was that Diego Maradona’s Argentina haven’t completely screwed their chances of qualifying for the tournament after all, after Martin Palermo scored a dramatic injury-time winner that gave them a 2-1 victory over Peru. They now only need a point in their last game to be sure of qualifying.

The match was played in driving wind and rain, and with Maradona’s job hanging by a thread, Argentina were seconds away from dropping two points and being almost certainly knocked out of the World Cup. Peru equalised Higuan’s 48th minute opener in the last minute with a header from Rengifo, but Palermo was on hand to tap home the winner a minute or so later.

‘Martin Palermo has saved us and our chances of qualifying are intact,’ Maradona said afterwards. ‘When the wind and rain and cold began and allowed Peru to draw level, we could not do anything, but the miracle of Palermo has given us a longer life. The goals I scored were normal, Palermo makes miracles.’

‘It was incomparable because it was for the national team at a time like this,’ Palermo said. ‘I don't know if it was fate but I thank God for this triumph.’

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